Accessibility links

Sons of Former Sports Stars Shine in Final Four  


Two sons of past sports stars have made headlines for themselves in U.S. men's college basketball this season. Now they are set to face one another in the Division One national championship game Monday night in Atlanta, Georgia. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer is there and has the story.

Defending champion Florida and Ohio State University will meet for this season's title after victories here in the Final Four Saturday night.

Key players in each starting line-up have fathers who made names for themselves internationally in different sports.

Florida's Joakim Noah is the son of former French tennis star Yannick Noah. Ohio State's Mike Conley, Jr. is the son of Mike Conley, who was the triple jump gold medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Mike Conley Jr. is a freshman guard while Joakim Noah is a 2.10-meter junior and plays forward and center. Noah was part of Florida's national championship team last season and many thought he would opt for a lucrative professional contract instead of returning to college. But he and two other star teammates decided to return to school to try to repeat.

Noah says that has put a lot of pressure on them.

"People would always talk to us about expectations and that was probably the word I heard the most after we won the national championship, and we decided to come back," said Joakim Noah. "I mean it's one thing to talk about expectations, but I think we really experienced it. And I feel like this year, that's why it's almost more satisfying because I feel like we had to go through so much more just being under the microscope."

Noah, an American citizen who grew up in New York, said he learned how to deal with it from his French father Yannick, who experienced the same things after winning the 1983 French Open tennis championship. He said his father also taught him his work ethic.

"I feel like my father worked really, really hard at what he did," he said. "I was able to live and see that growing up as a kid, so it kind of came normal to me to just work hard and be one of the hardest workers."

Joakim said he was a terrible tennis player so he opted for basketball.

Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. also opted for basketball, which is hugely popular in the adjoining state of Indiana where he grew up.

He says his Olympic champion father had no objections.

"My dad never put much pressure on me to run track and he always was very open and let me do what I wanted to do," said Mike Conley Jr. "And I felt like I've never ever really had a lot of pressure to play any other sport. And, you know, I thank him for that because it could have been different. And I'm just blessed and fortunate to be in the situation that I'm in now."

Mike Conley Jr. will try to help Ohio State win the prestigious national college basketball championship for the first time since 1962, while Joakim Noah aims to help Florida become only the second school in the last 33 years to repeat as champion.

XS
SM
MD
LG